Monday, November 20, 2017

BARU BIAN: RESPONSE TO THE HONOURABLE DCM DOUGLAS UGGAH: THE GOVERNMENT DOES TAKE THE PEOPLE’S LAND


20 NOVEMBER 2017


I refer to the Honourable DCM Douglas Uggah’s statement in the Borneo Post on 14 November headed ‘Government will never take away people’s land – Uggah’ and to his winding up speech in the DUN on 17th November which has been widely reported in the media. As a People’s Representative, and one who is somehow connected to this issue of NCR land, I feel duty bound to put the background and the facts openly for all to see and judge as to how and why this issue of pemakai menoa and pulau galau has became a serious issue that eventually led to a street rally on the 13th November 2017.



With respect, the Honourable DCM is not very correct when he said “the government will never take the people’s lands from them”. This is because from the natives’ perspective, thousands of acres of native customary lands acquired or created in accordance with their adat or custom have already been taken and continue to be taken, by the Government by the issuance of provisional leases to companies and/or LCDA and/or individuals for oil palm plantation, quarries and licence to plant forests (LPF), even as I write this statement. Probably the DCM, being new to this very issue, had been ill-advised by those in authority or perhaps his view is the usual known Government’s view that the pemakai menua and pulau galau concept was and is never accepted by the Government as a basis for NCR claims over land in Sarawak.



In the landmark case of Nor Nyawai, the customary concept of pemakai menoa and pulau galau had been affirmed as having “the force of law”, meaning this customary concept is lawfully accepted as a basis for native customary rights (NCR) claim over land in Sarawak. The decision in Nor Nyawai was eventually affirmed in the case of Madeli Salleh at the Federal Court. With the greatest respect to the DCM, I am aware that the facts in Madeli Salleh are not about pemakai menoa or pulau galau per se. But on principle of law, it has a connection with pemakai menoa or pulau galau, which was the crux of the matter in Nor Nyawai’s case. This is because one of the questions posed before the Federal Court in Madeli Salleh’s case was whether Nor Nyawai was correctly decided in recognising the “pre-existence of rights’ i.e pemakai menoa or pulau galau. And the Federal Court reply was a resounding “YES”. I quote the Federal Court’s relevant judgment under paragraph 42, which states:



“[42] As for the fifth question our answer is that we wholly agree with the view expressed in Adong bin Kuwau and Nor ak Nyawai that the common law respects the pre-existence of rights under native laws or customs.” [2007] 6 CLJ 509



After the decision of Madeli Salleh in October 2007 affirming Nor Nyawai, the customary concept of pemakai menoa and pulau galau had been followed in more than fifteen cases that I know of, at the High Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeal after full trial, including TR Sandah’s case (High Court and Court of Appeal). Surely it cannot be said that all the judges who heard these cases did not understand the law or misinterpreted Nor Nyawai and the Federal Court’s decision in Madeli Salleh’s case!



Unfortunately, all these cases that were won on the authority of Nor Nyawai and Madeli Salleh were appealed against by the very Government who kept repeating publicly that “they respect and recognise NCR lands of the natives of Sarawak”.  In response to this, I had on numerous occasions said that if indeed the Government respects and recognises NCR lands of the natives of Sarawak, then they should show their sincerity by withdrawing all the appeals made by the State Government after Madeli Salleh’s decision at the Federal Court. The fact is that the State Government through the State Attorney General (SAG) Chambers kept appealing in all the cases they lost with the view that the decision in Nor Nyawai could eventually be overruled. This opportunity finally came when they successfully got leave to appeal to the Federal Court in TR Sandah’s case.



The Federal Court’s decision in TR Sandah was handed down in September 2016. The only issue eventually to be decided was whether the customary concept of  “pemakai menoa or pulau galau” “has the force of law”. This stemmed again from the definition of “Native Customary Land” under section 2(a) of the Sarawak Land Code to mean amongst other things “land in which native customary rights, whether communal or otherwise, have lawfully been created prior to the 1 January 1958, and still subsist as such; ...” Therefore we need to understand the meaning of “lawfully been created” which then takes us back to the definition of “law” under Art 160(2) of the Federal Constitution, which states: ‘law includes written law, the common law in so far as it is in operation in the Federation or any part thereof, and any custom or usage having the force of law in the Federation or any part thereof.’



This is where the argument begins over the phrase “having the force of law”. The argument advanced by the Government’s lawyers was that the custom of pemakai menoa which is understood to mean ‘territorial domain’ in other jurisdictions has never been codified or provided for in the Tusun Tunggu (Adat of the Ibans) or any laws of Sarawak including the Land Code. This is because the Sarawak Land Code defines “Customary Law” to mean “a custom or body of customs to which the law of Sarawak gives effect”. 



On the other hand, it was our argument that the concept had already been codified or provided for in the definition of “Native Customary Land” in section 2 in the word communal’ as shown above. Further, we argued that custom does not need to be codified to have the force of law. Suffice that it exists, is recognised and practised by the natives concerned since time immemorial.  Those were the submissions in a nutshell before the Federal Court.



As to the Federal Court’s decision, many are unaware that in fact only four of the five Federal Court Judges that heard the appeal had given their written judgments, as the 5th judge had retired by the time judgments were handed down in September 2016. Secondly, many were unaware that two of the remaining judges affirmed the customary concept of pemakai menoa and pulau galau as “having the force of law” whereas two did not. Therefore, in law, this decision is not conclusive. Simply, we are saying the decision in Nor Nyawai affirmed by Madeli Salleh was not overruled. For this reason, I am aware that there is another case, which has been allowed by the Federal Court after the TR Sandah decision, to be fully argued again at the Federal Court, on the same or rather similar question of law in TR Sandah.



Unfortunately, the decision of the 2 judges favouring the opinion of the state government is now deemed to have overruled the understanding and decision in Nor Nyawai, which was affirmed in Madeli Salleh.



The question of whether the custom of pemakai menoa or pulau galau exists or not does not arise anymore as it was acceded to by the Government in TR Sandah, both at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.  Therefore, in my opinion, the proposed amendment does not warrant detailed definitions as suggested by the DCM. Secondly, I believe that the concept is already captured in the word “communal” appearing in the definition of “Native Customary Land” under Section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code. Therefore suffice it for us, in my opinion, to just define further that word “communal land” which I did propose in my recent Bill to mean “native customary land or territorial domain created in accordance with the customs of the natives of Sarawak”. Secondly, we need to further add to the definition of “Customary law” appearing under section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code to read a custom or body of customs or practice of the native community to which the law of Sarawak gives effect including the custom of communal native land or territorial domain (my proposed amendments in bold). In my considered opinion, the amendment of these two words is sufficient to address the only issue decided in TR Sandah. There is no necessity for detailed definitions from various communities as to what amounts to their pemakai menoa or territorial domain because it is enough to enforce and legalise the concept or in the words of the Government’s lawyers “codify it” or to recognise it as a concept “to which the law of Sarawak gives effect”.  The concept of pemakai menoa, which is basically a concept of “territorial domain”, had already been recognised in other jurisdictions by virtue of common law principle in favour of indigenous tribal groups who are dependent on their forests and lands. Our courts have already decided that common law principles apply to native claims.



And as to the extent of claims of pemakai menoa, I am of the opinion that there is no necessity to legislate on this matter because this has to be in accordance with the adat or custom of the natives. Different communities may have different adat on the matter and therefore claims must be proven by the native claimants in accordance with their adat. I am aware that there is an adat, which talks about half a day’s walk from the village to measure the extent of the territorial domain of some native group. But they are others who say that theirs is one day or one and a half day’s walk from their village. We should not be too bothered with the difference here as perhaps those are indeed their adat or custom. In those cases, the native claimants have to prove that their adat exists and is still practised to this day. Secondly, many are unaware that at the trial of these NCR claims, one other crucial ingredients that the natives must prove besides the existence of their custom is the fact that they were in “continuous occupation” of that area claimed before the 1st day of January 1958 to this day. This has been decided by the Court in interpreting the definition of “Native Customary Land” under section 2(a) of the Sarawak Land Code, referred above in the phrase “and still subsist as such”.



The Honourable DCM further said that NCR must not be politicised by anybody. I beg to differ. Like it or not, NCR has now become a political issue. Inevitably, NCR is a political issue because the Government is the authority that issues all provisional leases, quarry licences and licences to replant forests (LPF), which areas encroach onto the NCR lands or pemakai menoa of the natives. When I joined Party Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in the late 1980s, NCR was already a political issue. The Government could have addressed this much earlier by respecting the Court’s decisions after Medeli Salleh’s decision at the Federal Court or could have amended the Land Code as proposed by me twice in the DUN before the decision in TR Sandah at the Federal Court was given.  Now it has reached its boiling point, the government cannot be heard to say that we have politicised this issue when it is plain and obvious that it is grossly due to the Government’s own inaction.



In conclusion, I have no choice and neither do the many disappointed natives of Sarawak but to ‘wait patiently’ for the upcoming Bill in the next DUN sitting. It is true that I was invited to the meeting of the native lawyers in Bintulu on the 18th of April this year but due to other prior commitments I could not attend that meeting. However, I did convey my opinion to the group as to what needs to be addressed and which sections to amend. I was reliably informed by one of those attendees that my proposal was tabled for discussion, including my previous Private Bill. I wish to put on record too that I had written to the Honourable DCM of my recent Bill after meeting him on the 5th of October 2017 and informed him that I would withdraw my Bill if the Government had their Bill for the same purpose ready for tabling at the last DUN sitting. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that although it was open for me to forward my suggestion to the Honourable DCM, I am not privy to the discussion and decision of this Special Committee chaired by the Honourable DCM himself. I hope this letter can be of assistance to the Special Committee as they discuss the upcoming amendment as indicated in the DUN.



My actions in this matter have been dictated by my responsibility as a People’s Representative, particularly the tabling of my Private Bill for the amendment of the Land Code. I did not expect it to go through, of course, because of past experiences but my conscience is clear as I have done what I have done inside and outside the DUN to the best of my ability in fulfillment of my oath of office as a People’s Representative and as a legal practitioner to uphold justice.



But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream. ~ Amos 5:24 ~



BARU BIAN

ADUN N. 81 BA’KELALAN




Sunday, November 19, 2017

The joke's now on us M'sians


 

Published:     Modified:


COMMENT | There was a time when the jokes were on African states, their leaders and how they ran their governments. We despised the apartheid regime in South Africa and laughed at Idi Amin in Uganda and other kleptocrats who stole money and precious metals from their own people. Now, the joke seems to be on us.

Former Kenyan premier Raila Amolo Odinga’s not-so-flattering remarks on corruption in Malaysia made during a 2013 conference at the Wilson Centre in Washington DC, was uploaded to YouTube on 10 days ago.

He spoke as if he was an authority and had full knowledge of Malaysian affairs. Not surprising as a year earlier, he had been conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Leadership in Societal Development by the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

How long can Malaysians go on hearing all kinds of hurtful things being said of the country and its leaders? Why aren’t we responding to such insults, instead of pretending that they were never made? The more we play deaf and dumb, the more we become disrespected and slighted.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal alleged RM2.6 billion had been deposited into the AmBank account of Prime Minister Najib Razak and linked it to 1MDB. Almost immediately, he threatened to sue the newspaper. A year later, nothing materialised but his lawyer, Mohd Hafarizam Harun was quoted as saying that it would be a futile move.

The more important issue, the lawyer argued, is the Malaysians’ own thoughts regarding 1MDB, noting that reports and statements from local authorities such as the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) have cleared the prime minister.

“What matters are the Malaysians, whether you believe with all the public accounts committee report, the attorney-general and the MACC, that the PM is not involved. If you say you do not believe because the international media are saying otherwise, nothing much I can do,” he told reporters, adding that it would show a mindset of continued colonisation with the belief that “the Americans, the British, the whites are far superior” than Malaysians.

Well, that was before the US Department of Justice came out with its deposition on the funds it alleges had been stolen from 1MDB. Since then, there have been other disclosures from other monetary authorities.

Singapore closed a couple of financial institutions; banned a few bankers and even sent three of them to jail. The line that the money was a donation “from an Arab prince” has been demolished on more than to report the big money transfers to Bank Negara.

'Tidak apa'
ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott told an Australian parliamentary inquiry in October last year that no ANZ employee was involved in what has happened in the AmBank. (The AmBank Group was slapped with a RM53.7mil fine by Bank Negara in November 2015, but the exact reasons for the fine were not specified.)

If the bank has been penalised, what about the account holder? The police have continuously prosecuted individuals for having monies which they could not account for. And our leaders have often thumped their chest and screamed: “No one is above the law!”

There has been hardly any reaction to the Australian report. To scream “fake news” and consign 1MDB, its humongous borrowings and losses, its links to the Prime Minister and the government to the dustbin are not going to be easy.

The annals of history will record the massive misinformation campaign and its perpetrators of 1MDB and those attempting the cover-up exercise. With the rakyat are being continually starved of accurate data, the government has created a new strain of disease called the truth deficiency syndrome.

Instead of addressing this issue, the government seems laid back and has adopted a "tidak apa" attitude. Lawmakers who raise the issues are not given proper answers in Parliament.

There seems to be no will and determination in wanting to tell the truth and find closure to an issue that has dragged down the country through slime and mud. Does it not matter to our MPs and ministers? What do they tell their foreign counterparts when attending conferences and meetings? Packs of lies?

It has been said that those who are riding the 1MDB tiger refuse to or cannot dismount for fear of being eaten up. If that is so, let it happen.

What about the roles of our elected representatives? Instead of addressing more important issues, they seem to be more apt or fixated with sex. Why else would they be debating the aphrodisiac qualities of durians instead of 1MDB?

R Nadeswaran says the government has to come clean on the 1MDB saga so that a closure could be found for the country to move forward. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com

~ Malaysiakini

Reject Territorial Sea Act 2012 to safeguard Sarawak’s territorial integrity – See





KUCHING: The state government must be serious in safeguarding Sarawak’s territorial integrity by rejecting the application and enforcement of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 in Sarawak, said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.

“It it is only by claiming the full rights to Sarawak’s continental shelf in accordance with the Federal Constitution that the state can maintain full control of the use and development of all resources belonging to Sarawak, including the full licensing rights to oil and gas exploration and development.

“Most importantly, we must not shoot ourselves in the foot by agreeing to the limitation of our territorial sea to 12 nautical miles,” he said.

Elaborating on his opinion, See pointed out that the Territorial Sea Act 2012 cannot impose the provisions of the Continental Shelf Act 1966 [Act 83] and the Petroleum Mining Act 1966 [Act 95] on Sarawak, because Sarawak has its various Orders In Council made in 1954, 1958, 1960 and 1962 adopted by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly and the Sarawak Land Code, which have legally delineated and determined Sarawak’s territorial boundary, and the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 with regards to oil mining on and in its Continental Shelf.

“With the revocation and or annulment of the Emergency Orders, the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No. 10 of 1969 ceases to have effect under Article 150(7) of the Federal Constitution and the amendments made by Ordinance No. 10 of 1969 ceased to have effect and the 2 Federal Acts (the Continental Shelf Act 1966 and the Petroleum Mining Act 1966, i.e. Act 83 and Act 95) ceased to apply outside ‘the States of Malaya’,” he explained.

According to See, the reference to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by the Territorial Sea Act 2012 to bind all the Malayan States and the territories of Sarawak and Sabah to justify their limitation of the 12-nautical miles territorial limit, is misleading and fallacious.

He said that for the Federation as a whole, the “Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1984” [Act 311] was legislated to claim “the continental shelf of Malaysia” and made provisions to regulate all activities in the EEZ and on the continental shelf and all matters connected therewith.

He pointed out that therefore it was a big mistake to say that the Federation had, through the Territorial Sea Act 2012, unilaterally reduced the territorial sea of Sarawak from 12 nautical miles to three miles (hence a reduction of nine nautical miles).

“In actual fact, it took away our rightful claim to the continental shelf and reduced it to three nautical miles from our shores. For an estimate of the norms, there is a reduction of 197 nautical miles!”

See believed that the state would be making a mistake if it is agreeable to limit its territorial sea to just 12-nautical miles from its shores.

“Other resources in and on the state’s continental shelf aside, there is very little oil and gas fields sited within the 12-nautical mile limit.

“Are we to give up all the rights to oil and gas mining to the federal, for those fields outside the 12-nautical mile limit? That would be a huge sell-out of our territorial rights,” he said.

See noted that there is no other way but to claim the state’s full territorial rights as specified under Article 1(3) of the Federal Constitution, that is, the territory immediately before Malaysia Day (September 16, 1963).

“That the rights to Sarawak’s territory is exclusively ours is also enshrined in Article 2 of the Federal Constitution. The Federation cannot enact any law altering or affecting our territorial boundary unless Sarawak first passes a law in our state legislative assembly to alter it.

“The Territorial Sea Act 2012 is therefore unconstitutional in as far as it affects the territorial boundaries of Sarawak and Sabah. It should be declared that its application is limited to only the “Territory of the States of Malaya” or various provisions in the Act including sections 3 and 4 must be amended to state that those provisions have no application to the States of Sarawak and Sabah.

“We can have regard to UNCLOS but let us legislate our own Territorial Sea Ordinance and the Exclusive Economic Zone Ordinance to regulate and maintain our rights to the licensing of petroleum mining on and in the continental shelf of Sarawak,” he said.

~ Borneo Post

Friday, November 17, 2017

Borneo Christians shocked at Islamic council’s offer to translate Bible


Desmond Davidson
Borneo Christians shocked at Islamic council’s offer to translate Bible
A King James Bible from the year 1617 is on display in the newly built Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, USA. In Malaysia, an Islamic authority’a offer to prepare a Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible has outraged Christians, who hold the book to be the word of God. – EPA pic, November 17, 2017.
A RESOUNDING "no".

This was the response of Christian leaders in Sabah and Sarawak to the Selangor Islamic Religious Council’s (Mais) suggestion that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) produce “an official Malay translation” of the Bible to correct the allegedly erroneous use of the word  "Allah" in the text.

Mais lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla made the suggestion at the hearing of the suit brought by Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill against the Home Minister and government to uphold her constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in Christian publications.

Haniff claimed that the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak had wrongly used “Allah” to mean God in Bahasa Malaysia, arguing that they should instead use “Tuhan” and that this would not deprive them of their rights.

Sabah Council of Churches president Bishop Melter Jiki Tais found Haniff’s statement "very insulting" to Christians.

"We are indeed very much offended by his statement and demand an apology from him.

"Let it be known to Mohamed Khatri Abdulla that his suggestion that Dewan Bahasa can prepare a Bahasa Malaysia Bible reflects his ignorance of theology and the true and proper interpretation of the original language of the Bible.

"Let it also be known to him that we, the Christian community in Sabah, do not and will not accept any Bahasa Malaysia Bible prepared by Dewan Bahasa," the bishop told The Malaysian Insight in a text message.

He added that as far as the Christians are concerned, no individual or party should dictate to them how they should express their their faith in any language.

"We will continue to use the term 'Allah' for God verbally or in written form.

Mais is assisting the court in understanding the meaning and context of the word “Allah” in Islam.
Haniff had told the High Court that the government was also interested in allowing the publication of a Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible.

He had said that Dewan Bahasa would prepare the translation, to be approved by the Christian community, for the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, if the government approved the publication.

"We would then not have this issue for generations to come,” Haniff had said.

His statement also evoked a strong response from Sarawak Christian leaders.

Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sarawak elder Liwan Lagang said the Bible was the word of God to the Christians, asking, who were these people in Mais and Dewan Bahasa who thought they could change the word of God?

“Would I want Mais or DBP to write a translation of my Bible?

“Definitely not,” said Liwan, who is also Sarawak Assistant Minister of Water Supply.

Liwan said it was not right for anyone to change the words or the meaning of the Bible, which the Christians held to be the truth.

“That is why we have a panel of experts, the elders, our own pastors doing the translation,” Liwan said.

SIB is one of the churches in Sarawak that uses the Malay language Bible.

“No. We don't need Mais to teach us our beliefs. Definitely not.

“We don't interfere in their (religious) affairs and definitely we don't want that to happen to us. No religion should dictate their belief to another religion.”

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Masing asked if Mais or DBP understood the essence of Christianity.

"I have a PhD. I have many books on Islam and I have read all of them. Does that make me qualified to write what Islam should be? But more importantly, would they agree? Would they allow it?

“I don't think so. Neither would Mais. They may have people with PhDs and whatnot in religion but they are not qualified to rewrite the Bible,” Masing said.

Masing said it would be “the greatest mockery this country will ever make” if Mais was given the authority to translate the Bible.

Masing also brushed off Haniff's claim that Christians in the two Borneo states had wrongly used “Allah” for God, saying it was polemics.

“So who gave them (Muslims in Malaysia) the right to be the only people who can use the word Allah?

“The Arabs do not worry about it. Why should Muslims in Malaysia worry about it?”

He said it was highly unfortunate that Malaysia allowed such polemics, which had created animosity between Muslims and Christians.

PKR Sarawak chief Baru Bian was also adamant that the Dewan Bahasa has no business translating the Bible.

“That's fundamental. Those who translated our Bible were scholars,” said Baru, formerly an SIB church elder.

The Ba Kelalan assemblyman said there should be no dispute over Christian usage of Allah because the word predated Islam.

Deputy Chief Minister 1 Douglas Uggah tersely brushed aside questions on the matter, calling the argument over who could and could not use the word Allah a “non issue”.

“Don't create an issue,” Uggah, who also chairs the state government's Unit for Other Religion (Unifor) said.

He said in Sarawak, religious and racial harmony are strong and people should preserve them.

Education, Science and Technological Research Minister, Michael Manyin, however, is unperturbed by the events in court over in the peninsula.

“It is not going to affect us. We can still use the word here.

“Sometimes I say 'insyallah' in my speeches and it offends no one.” – November 17, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

BARU BIAN: FINES FOR ‘BAD’ BAHASA MALAYSIA – A FLAWED PROPOSITION


PRESS STATEMENT
16 NOVEMBER 2017

I refer to the reported proposal for the imposition of a fine of RM1,000.00 by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka for the use of incorrect Bahasa Malaysia via the amendment to the National Language Act 1963 and Education Act 1996.

This is a flawed proposition and seeks to punish, not to educate the public. It is a draconian move that will cause resentment and avoidance of Bahasa Malaysia by the public. Is there any other country that imposes a fine such as this for the improper use of their language?

In the first place, what is the definition of ‘proper Bahasa Malaysia’? Is there a gold standard documented somewhere for the poor public to follow? Who is to judge what amounts to ‘proper Bahasa Malaysia’? Is there going to be a degree of acceptable ‘improperness’ beyond which the fine will be imposed?

Imposing a fine is ridiculous because languages, including Bahasa Malaysia, are always evolving, and people continue to learn the language as it evolves. Many words are adopted from the English language, and this is necessary where there are no equivalent words in Bahasa Malaysia for the term. This is especially true in the scientific and technical fields. Would some people consider these adaptions as improper?

In Sarawak, English is recognised as an official language as provided for under the Malaysian Agreement. This right is further safeguarded in Art 161 in Part XIIA of the Federal Constitution. Furthermore, the government is encouraging the people to excel in English, as it is recognised as the lingua franca of the world, and mastery of the English language is necessary for us to be global players in all fields. We would regard this move to impose fines for incorrect usage of Bahasa Malaysia to be unconstitutional.

This move by the federal government is another manifestation of the high handedness of government officials who have the mistaken belief that punishment yields results. This could also well be a politically motivated strategy for West Malaysian audiences, designed to divide the people and to foment resentment and insecurity.

This proposal to impose fines for people’s weakness in a language is immature, ill-conceived and a waste of time and resources. It will not benefit any party in the end.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DUN Nov 2017: See Chee How's Speech

Allow me to first commend the state administration for the financial performance this year, that we have an increase in revised revenue by RM779 million and no revision in ordinary expenditure, that the 2017 revised budget is expected to register a surplus of RM394 million against the original estimated deficit of RM385 million.

There is a positive gain in the actual revenue from the hill timber premium comparing to the estimated income from the same source, to the tune of RM93.8 million. However, the RM100 million revenue from hill timber premium appears to be far short of the revised target of RM300 million.

And the increase in revenue earning from hill timber premium was completely offset by the reduction in revenue earning from other forest and timber premiums, and most particularly the deviation of 34.25% from the estimated to actual collection of forest royalty by RM178.15 million. The estimated revenue was RM520.15 million but the actual revenue collected is only RM342million.

Not only was the actual collection far short from that budgeted, it was a 30% drop in revenue collection from last year, which is not proportional to the log production. I will be most grateful if the Honourable minister will enlighten us on the reasons for the plunge in the royalty collection, whether it is due to the rampant illegal logging which is always the main culprit.

In this respect with regards combating illegal logging, it is noticed that this administration appears to have adopted a different policy from the former administration which had frozen the issuance of Occupation Tickets (OTs) and Letters of Authority (LAs) for short term timber logging, identified as the main cause for illegal logging. It was announced in February that short-term timber licences will be issued through open tender process. I hope the honourable minister will enlighten this House on the number of Occupation Tickets (OTs) and Letters of Authority (LAs) for short term timber logging, whether issued through open tenders or otherwise, that were issued this year and how many of those OTs and LAs are still subsisting today. Importantly, how will the new arrangement alleviate the problem of illegal logging in the state.

It is, however, clear for all to see that the brightest spark in terms of performance in revenue generating for 2017 is the state’s earnings from investments and in particular, dividends, which saw a most pleasing actual revenue earning of RM1.5 billion. This is 198.6% or almost double the estimated dividend earning, RM755 million projected in our budget 2017.

I must congratulate the Right Honourable Chief Minister, the Honourable Second Finance Minister and the Honourable State Financial Secretary for their commendable leadership. At the same time, I must put on record our appreciation to the staffs in the finance ministry, departments and offices for their hard work which have bear this remarkable fruit.

All other states in the Federation will be envious of Sarawak for our feat, earning a whooping RM2.511 billion interest and return on our investments. This is more than 8% returns this year from the investment of our state reserves.

I pray that the state will continue with our prudent and sound financial management of our state reserves and financial resources. This is the crucial hallmark and leverage for Sarawak and it certainly augurs well in our quest for our demand for greater autonomy and devolution of powers that Sarawak is more than capable of managing and administration the fiscal powers that will be devolved to Sarawak.

This impressive returns from the interests and dividends of our investments is pivoted on the equally notable sum of state reserves that we have saved over the years, which I must caution the Right Honourable Chief Minister and the state government to zealously guard and protect it, to continue and advance the present prudent and sound financial management to ensure that it will continue to earn the interests and dividends which is much needed for the continuous development of Sarawak.

In this regards, I would like to point out the fallacy or misconception that the state could have earned more by cannibalizing our state reserves through financing our state projects.

It must be borne in mind that eventhough our savings with the commercial banks can earn only up to 3.8 percent interest per year, and our borrowings can attract up to 7 to 8 percent interest per year.

However, the commercial banks that lend their money to us are to bear statutory reserves to the Bank Negara, the administrative costs and the unforeseen risk factors in bad loans and default in payment.

According to Bank Negara Malaysia, the Statutory Reserve Requirement (SRR) is an instrument to manage liquidity. All banking institutions, development banks included, are required by law to maintain balances in their Statutory Reserve Accounts (SRA) equivalent to a certain proportion of their eligible liabilities (EL), this proportion being the SRR rate. The present rate of SRR for all banks in Malaysia is 3.5% of their eligible liabilities.

The records published have shown that commercial banks would only lend out up to 15% of the sums deposited with them.

Comparing to the Federation, from the recently revealed nation budget 2018 which was passed yesterday, our national debts is pushed to beyond RM600 billion and the government guaranteed borrowings has reached RM285 billion. However, the country has a national foreign reserves fund of RM450 billion.

The federation have maintained that reserves in the tone of RM450 billion for quite some time, with no intention to cannibalizing it to financial national projects to reduce the interests to be expended on financing them.

We must therefore be cautious in the managing of our state reserves. It sounds well and good to say that we can make use of our reserves to finance projects such as the repair and rebuilding of dilapidated schools if the federal allocation does not materialized.

With respect, the prudent approach is to approach the friendly foreign banks, banking institutions, international money markets and funds to secure the finance which attract the lowest interests, and that we require the federal government to stand as guarantor for the borrowings.

This is one other function that the state reserves plays and serves us well. With our high state reserves and prudent management, we are rated highly, higher than the federation, with all due respect. Moody has rated us “A- with positive outlook” while the federation manages an “A- with stable outlook” before the Budget 2018, which thereafter has caused the rating agency to caution that “The full credit implications of the budget will depend on whether the projected increase in revenues - the fastest since 2012 - is achievable since targets rest primarily on a rise in GST collections, which in turn rely on relatively optimistic growth projections going into 2018”.

Another international rating agency, Fitch, has equally cautioned: “We see downside risk to the government’s optimistic revenue projections. Its 2018 GDP growth forecast of 5.0%-5.5% assumes that strong recent momentum will be maintained, but there could be some headwinds from cooling external demand.”

I henceforth pray that our state reserves will be maintained and strengthened, to make use of our strong standing to attract more investments and financial resources for the needed state projects, for the greater benefits of Sarawak.

See Chee How
N11 Batu Lintang

DUN Nov 2017: Ali Biju's Speech

Tuan Speaker,

Thank you for giving Krian the opportunity to participate in the debate today regarding the Supply (2018) Bill (2017) and the Speech delivered by the Yang Amat Berhormat Chief Minister delivered on the 8th of November 2017 regarding Penyata Rasmi Persidangan Dewan Undangan Negeri, Mesyuarat Kedua Bagi Penggal Kedua.

Economic Growth vs Inflation
Krian’s first observation refers to the Government’s official estimated and expected projected economic growth of the State for the year which is stated as being between 3.5 percent and 4 percent. However, the inflation rate is projected to be at an average of 3.1 percent in the first nine months of 2017. This is mainly due to higher domestic fuel price which has impacted the transport sector. The Government insists that this inflationary rate, which conflicts directly with the projected growth of 3.5 to 4 percent, is manageable. What does the Government mean by ‘manageable’ and how are they going to ‘manage’ this? The price of fuel is increasing on a weekly basis and impacting consumers in a negative way, particular the transport sector. This will inevitably have a cause and effect on the rate of inflation which will also rise. So, the question arises. What is the State Government’s plan to reduce the impact on the ordinary consumers, especially those in the rural areas who are vastly dependent on fuel for their travelling need. Many other rural consumers who are not yet connected to the electrical grid must depend on generators which consume a vast amount of fuel. But the real concern and question that needs to be truthfully answered is, what net economic growth is the Government talking about? Growth and inflation are cancelling each other out. Can the Government give us a realistic net projection instead of giving us generalities which make no economic sense?

Labour Market
Krian’s second observation refers to the labour market and the State’s official figures that show that job vacancies reported was 40,915, which was mainly in the agriculture, construction, and manufacturing sectors. However, the Statistics Department recorded that in 2016, there were 169,527 job applications, of which 40,834 were graduates who applied for jobs in the State Civil Service. The YAB CM mentioned that with the anticipated expansion in all economic sectors, labour market conditions are expected to remain favourable for next year. So, how is government going to reconcile the small number of job vacancies with the huge number of unemployed job-seekers in the labour market today, and still insist that labour market conditions are expected to remain favourable? The figures simply do not add up. Furthermore, the Civil Service has announced to minimize new intakes, which means minimum applications will be entertained. It is clear that jobs will not increase, and this will lead to further aggravating the unemployment issue which is especially plaguing the youth of Sarawak.

Allow Krian to repeat our point made in previous speeches and remind this august House yet again that the much-touted mega-project SCORE was going to create two million jobs in Sarawak. Can the Government give this august House a detailed breakdown of the number of jobs created by SCORE and how many Sarawakians have benefitted from this mega-project? If indeed SCORE was supposed to create employment and become the main catalyst for economic growth for the State, then why has it not realised? How long do Sarawakians have to wait till we see SCORE empower Sarawakians economically?

Budget for Agricultural Programmes
Krian’s third observation, Tuan Speaker, is on another mega-project that has been publicised. First, let me read out what the YAB CM said about the allocation for agriculture. He said, and I quote, “RM223 million is allocated for agricultural programmes such as land development, drainage and irrigation, assistance to farmers, veterinaries, fisheries, agricultural research and forestry.” This figure is similar to other budgets in previous years. So, “Where is the allocated budget for the mega-project of Bukit Sadok Agropolitan Project which covers an estimated area of 295,571 hectares covering Sri Aman, Betong and Sarikei Divisions?” Is this huge endeavour to be funded under the RM223 million allocation? Further, a task force was formed to accelerate the development of the mega-project and chart its direction, strategies business model and action plan, as reported in this august House on the 16th of May this year. Six months have passed. Can the Minister in Charge please kindly give us the current status and a comprehensive report of the Bukit Sadok Agropolitan Project’s task force work?

Pindaan Nama Klasifikasi Perkhidmatan Mahir/Separuh Mahir/Tidak Mahir Bagi Perjawatan Negeri Sarawak.
Tuan Speaker, saya ingin merujuk kepada Pekeliling Perjawatan Negeri Sarawak Bilangan 16 Tahun 2013 – Pindaan Nama Klasifikasi Perkhidmatan Mahir/Separuh Mahir/Tidak Mahir(R) yang bertarikh 17 Nov 2014 daripada Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak berhubung keputusan pihak Kerajaan Negeri untuk menerima-pakai Klasifikasi Perkhidmatan Kemahiran(H). Mohon pihak Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri untuk memberi penjelasan/maklum balas mengenai sejauh mana status perlaksanaan pekeliling berkenaan sekarang di semua Kementerian dan Jabatan dibawah Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak. Ini memandangkan masih ada lagi rungutan daripada kakitangan awam di Kementerian dan Jabatan tertentu yang masih lagi belum menerima lantikan seperti mana yang telah diarahkan di dalam pekeiling tersebut.

Untuk pengetahuan dewan yang mulia ini, saya telah difahamkan bahawa kakitangan Kerajaan Persekutuan yang bertugas di Negeri Sarawak sudah lama menerima pakai pekeliling tersebut iaitu semenjak 2013. Sekali lagi, adalah tidak adil sama sekali golongan tersebut dianak-tirikan oeh kerajaan Sarawak. Ini adalah kerana Kakitangan awam negeri dan persekutuan sepatutnya mendapat ganjaran yang sama memandangkan mereka sama-sama bertugas di Negeri Sarawak dan membuat kerja yang sama juga.

Penyata Kewangan Majlis Daerah Saratok 2016
Tuan Speaker, sekali lagi untuk kai ketiga dalam masa 3 tahun, saya ingin merujuk kepada ucapan saya berhubung dengan keperluan perbelanjaan untuk menaiktaraf kemudahan awam dan kemudahan asas dibawah tanggungan Majlis daerah Saratok. Mengikut Penyata Kewangan Bagi Tahun Berakhir  31 December 2016, asset tunai yang disimpan pada tahun 2016 adalah berjumlah RM31.7 juta. Asset tersebut merupakan Wang Tunai Dalam Bank, Pelaburan Tabung Rizab dan Pelaburan Simpanan Tetap. Kalau dibandingkan dengan jumlah RM29 juta pada Kewangan Berakhirs 2014, pertambahan asset tunai adalah RM2.7 juta. Petambahan ini seolah-olah menunjukan majlis daerah tersebut lebih berfungsi sebagai ‘investment company’ daripada jabatan yang memberi perkhidmatan asas kepada penduduk. Adakah ini seiring atau bercanggah dengan akta atau tujuan asal majlis Daerah ditubuhkan di Sarawak? Lebih-lebih lagi dikala, banyak lagi kemudahan asas yang perlu disediakan untuk kemudahan penduduk setempat seperti jalan kampong dan lampu jalanan di kampung dan rumah panjang. Sebagai cuntoh- Jalan Kawang-Drau hanya mampu di-naik taraf sebanyak 300 meters untuk jalan yang sepanjang 3km. Dengan itu baki jalan yang belum dinaik taraf adalah masih dalam keadaan yang daif dan sangat sukar untuk digunakan. Adakah perancangan dan perbangunan seperti ini wajar bagi sebuah Majis Daerah yang mempunyai asset tunai sebanyak RM31,7 juta? Keadaan yang lebih malang kepada penduduk di Nanga Ibus yang lansung tiada jalan.  

Kemudahan Infrastrukur dan Kemudahan Asas
Tuan Speaker, memandangkan banyak kemudahan infrastruktur dan keperluan asas yang belum dilaksanakan di kawasan Krian, saya sekali lagi atas kehendak rakyat ingin bertanyakan perkembangan janji-janji yang telah dibuat oleh banyak Menteri untuk kawasan tersebut.

Jalanraya      
Tuan Speaker, sekali lagi saya mohon pecerahan yang munasabah berkenaan dengan beberapa projek pembinaan naiktaraf jalan raya yang telah lama diumumkan oleh para Menteri termasuk Perdana Menteri sendiri semenjak April 2016.

1.  Penurapan Jalan Ulu Krian bermula dari Sungai Bansu ke Awas dan Ulu Krian yang berjumlah RM 15 juta.
2.  Penurapan Jalan Kabo-Sg Bangkong yang berjumlah RM 8 juta
3.  Menaiktaraf dan menurap Jalan Krangan Rusa-Babang dan membina jambatan merentasi Sg Krian di Krangan Rusa.
4.  Menurap Jalan Ulu Awik sepanjang 13.5km
5.  Menaiktaraf dan menurap Jalan Ulu Paku/Nanga Alum/Pakan sepanjang 11.8km
                                                               
Bekalan Air Terawat
Tuan Speaker, Loji Penapisan Air Kaki Wong sudah siap lebih 2 tahun yang lepas, tetapi masih ada kawasan yang belum lagi menikmati bekalan air terawatt seperti;
1.  SK Ulu Sebetan dan 4 buah rumah panjang di sepanjang Jalan Ulu Sebetan
2.  SK Mudong dan 8 buah rumah panjang di Jalan Mudong
3.  Sebanyak 10 buah rumah panjang di kawasan Brayang.
Oleh itu sekali lagi saya meminta pencerahan berkenaan dengan status perancangan pembinaan paip utama, tangki air dan booster pumps di kawasan berkenaan. Sebagai peringatan, Menteri yang berkaitan pernah berjanji bahawa semua kawasan di atas akan menerima bekalan air bersih pada penghujung tahun 2017.

Peruntukan Tabung Khas P205 Saratok.
Atas permintaan rakyat, saya juga ingin meminta pencerahan daripada ADUN Pakan selaku MP Saratok berkenaan dengan janji peribadi ganjil beliau semasa PRU13 yang lallu, dimana beliau telah mengumumkam di tengah Pekan Saratok untuk menderma elaun bulanannya sebagai ahli parliament untuk Tabung Khas kepada warga Saratok sekiranya BN menang di Saratok. Ini adalah elaun bukan MRP. Ditambahkan lagi oleh Perdana Menteri dengan menggandakan jumlah itu untuk lima tahun yang akan datang. Sekarang sudah hampir habis tempoh 5 tahun, maka adalah berpatutan untuk warga Saratok menagih janji derma elaun tersebut, atau adakah janji tersebut hanya bahan lawak jenaka sahaja.

Dengan ini, saya ingin mengakhiri ucapan saya dengan mengucapkan Selamat Menyambut Hari Krismas kepada yang berugama Kristian dan selamat tahun baru 2018 kepada semua.


Ali Biju
N39 Krian